Sunday, April 04, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Watermoons

Derek Bailey/Cyro Baptista: Derek. 2006. Amulet Records: AMT 023.

Derek Bailey: guitar
Cyro Baptista: percussion, voice

There was a purity to Derek Bailey's approach to free improvisation. And with it certain seriousness running underneath the variety of non-premeditated angles his fingers would find on the guitar. With Cyro Baptista there's a sense of whimsy and play as he darts through a vast array of sonic sources at hand and in his voice. As a duo these disparate talents compliment each other well. The cultural and spoken language differences dissolving away once the music begins to fly.

Gunda Gottschalk: Wassermonde. 2002. Elephant: 002.

Gunda Gottschalk: violin, viola

The sounding timbral terrain of Gunda Gottschalk is vast. There are any number of ways to draw music out of the sounding board of the violin and viola. But the striking thing is how she doesn't skip around this expended sonic space too quickly. Instead, she follows her own improvisational instinct to focus upon singular patches of ideas and allow them to develop under their own force of duration. Guided by her ears, what results is an hour of severely good taste. This one is a sonic gem.

Iannis Xenakis
: Electronic Music. 1997. Electronic Music Foundation: EMF CD 003.

Iannis Xenakis: composer, electronics

Diamorphoses (1957)
Concret PH (1958)
Orient-Occident (1960)
Bohor (1962)
Hibiki-Hana-Ma (1970)
S.709 (1992)

To be honest, most musique concrete leaves me cold. My listening diet is spare in this medium. Audio editing software has made so much sonic manipulation so easy to do that there's already a ready fluency with the basics elements of amplification and signal processing. Many early works of musique concrete sound like dated oddities to these ears. Iannis Xenakis is a significant exception to these reservations. His sensibilities as a composer of major orchestral and chamber works contributed to his uncanny sense of form. Not to mention his background in architecture. The steadfast consistency in all media toward hyper rational structures and stochastic generative process makes each medium into a different glimpse into a vibrant aesthetic soul. One can hear how his ideas feed upon the materials at hand. There is also the relentless abrasive quality of his music that is difficult to turn away from.

is the main attraction in this collection. A piece that nearly pealed the peeling of Easter morning church bells as it systematically transformed into a howling wind pouring out of my speakers. The use of instrumental source material in Hibiki-Hana-Ma gave it a sense of gravity and allowed these ears to connect with it at an immediate and intuitive level.

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